Posted: Monday, August 3, 2020. 2:37 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: A frustrated Prime Minister Dean Barrow railed in the House of Representatives this afternoon, revealing that if the contact tracing underway on Ambergris Caye reveals more positive cases of COVID-19 as he expects, the reopening of the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) may well be off.
For sure, he is prepared to close off “La Isla Bonita,” the nation’s most popular tourist destination, if community spread is found there.
The fifty-sixth case of COVID-19 is a woman on the island, the P.M. reported to the House, and reports are that four other persons from one institution, not named, are showing serious symptoms, including loss of taste and smell. They are expected to be tested today.
That was enough to rattle the Prime Minister into declaring that he is not afraid to pull back on the PGIA reopening and declare San Pedro verboten. But as he pointed out, that depends on the behaviour of Belizeans, who have not exactly been following the ongoing guidelines as cited in numerous examples: a wedding in Benque Viejo attended by 500 persons; the jammed water taxis, and others.
At this point, the majority of cases involve border jumpers and those associated with them.
Minister of State for Immigration and Nationality Beverly Williams after a point of clarification asked for by Kareem Musa, clarified that the authorities typically send the offender back on the next available flight and if necessary hold them overnight. But in any event it is the responsibility of the airline the person travels on to ensure they get back home.
And in wrapping up the debate, the Minister of Health made note that Belize has learned from the mistakes of Caribbean neighbours Jamaica, Bahamas and others.
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